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Book Giveaway: “1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips”

You could win this book!

We’ve all learned great sewing tips from friends, relatives, teachers, or from discoveries we’ve made while sewing. Deepika Prakash, founder of PatternReview.com, has compiled 1,000 amazing sewing tips into one comprehensive book—1000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips. The book is featured in the Notions department of Threads issue #153 (Feb./March 2011). You’ll learn great tips gleaned from the fans and master teachers who support PatternReview.com, and the tips are categorized to make it easy to find a tip for whatever sewing task you’re working on.

Tell us what your most-used sewing tip is, and if you remember, tell us where you learned the tip. Simply leave your comment on this post before the deadline—11:59 pm, Sunday, January 16—and you could win a copy of this book. The winner will be randomly-selected on Monday, January 17.

Good luck!


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  1. User avater
    YarnUiPhoneApp | | #1

    I personally like to keep a can of Sullivan's stabilizer spray around...very handy for sewing charmeuse, lightweight cottons, silks...(all listed in my fabric iPhone app).

  2. User avater
    heather371 | | #2

    Being still in the beginner level of sewing i recently learned that if you open the zipper you don't have to use a zipper foot. And since I don't have a zipper foot it comes in quite handy. Learned this online.


  3. User avater
    PattyHayesMurdock | | #3

    Having learned to sew by watching my mother in the fifties, my best handsewing tip is this oldie-but-goodie: after cutting a length of thread, and before threading the needle, run the thread along a block of beeswax to strengthen it and prevent tangles. MAGICAL!

  4. shaniqua | | #4

    My favorite sewing tips came from my Grandma (may she RIP), although I wasn't paying attention at the time, and are the most basic and easy to skip sorts of things like tailor's tacks. But my favorite/most used is probably:

    Thread a few basting needles before you start sewing, so they're ready. Use them.

    Thanks, Grandma!

  5. Zippylady | | #5

    Press every seam after sewing it! Sew, Press, Sew, Press...

    I never use to worry about pressing as I constructed but many years ago, in a little sewing get-together, it was impressed upon me and it made complete sense and I teach it in my classes.

    My next best one is to pin by halves. When pinning a seam, start by pinningboth ends and the notches. Then place pins half way between these pins, keep pinning by half until you have enough pins in. This works great when you are easing fabric like for the bust area of a princess seam or a sleeve cap and the pins get to be right next to each other.

    Linda T

  6. loreal | | #6

    About 3 years ago I ran across a tip that I had not ever seen and I had been sewing at that time for 45 years. The tip was to cut your thread at an angle to make it easier to thread your needle. Wow I couldn't believe how much easier it was to thread my needle and as you age......old eyes need all the help they can get!

  7. staceyloohoo | | #7

    i have not yet found a seam ripper that has a handle i am comfortable with. i really like the small ones that come with the kits, but the handle is very short and small so it becomes difficult to use for more than a couple of stitches and the ones with the larger handles i find are awkward to use on fine stitches. one day i got tired of trying to find my small one and stuck it handle end into the core of a 1500 metre spool of thread that was sitting on top of my machine. i pulled the whole thing off when i went to use it and it was great! the handle fit into the core snugly and didn't wobble, gave it a nice usable length and the thread spool fit comfortably into the palm of my hand and didn't slide around. it is especially great for when my carpal tunnel acts up or my hands are just tired!

  8. User avater
    racu | | #8

    Always press!!! From the Sandra Betzina tv show

  9. Badnana | | #9

    Placing a piece of paper on top of batting - saves me all the time. But then, I am a beginner so learning, learning, learning!

  10. MariaKie | | #10

    It all depends if I am sewing clothes, or quilts. With quilts, always put the 1/4 foot on your machine, and you'll have perfect seam allowances all the time. Totally works even when kids are just learning to sew.
    In clothes sewing it is to keep your tools handy, and right beside your machine. This includes a pair of scissors to snip thread, a pin cushion, a stitch ripper and a measuring tape. Without these it's almost impossible to get anything sewn properly.

  11. User avater
    sweetpea2 | | #11

    From a total stranger in a fabric store=="press, press, and then press again". I sure would like to thank her who ever she was!

  12. silverlining | | #12

    I'm new to sewing again and would love this book. My daughter gave me a subscription to Threads magazine for Christmas. I am excited to sew again.

  13. sewingmule | | #13

    I too am a returning sewer, so after being away from the sewing machine for 10 years I am a beginner again. The best tip I have received recently has been to dry iron the pattern tissue paper before cutting. It improves cutting accuracy.

  14. Carly_Sue | | #14

    No matter how well you sew, if garments don't fit well, you won't wear them.
    Make the effort to have patterns fit to your body and perfect fit as you sew.

  15. User avater
    eMMb | | #15

    Thread needle with thread as it comes off the spool, then cut to desired length. That way the thread does not knot up when hand sewing or quilting.

  16. twillian | | #16

    Press after every seam, learned from my mom.

    Also, measure twice, cut once.

  17. LadyElegant | | #17

    Take the time to do it right otherwise your project will look homemade. From my Mom the most gifted sewer I know.

  18. User avater
    JoaniesJosh | | #18

    If you want your sewing project to look professional, TAKE YOUR TIME AND DO IT RIGHT. Be sure you understand your pattern before cutting, make sure every seam is pressed and if something doesn't look right, take the time to make it right. Ripping out a seam or two is much easier than completing the project and always seeing that mistake.

  19. vabney | | #19

    I learned to use the cardboard that comes with bias tape, hem tape, and the like to create special hem/pressing guides. My first sewing teacher passed that one on to me.

  20. User avater
    scarrlett | | #20

    one important thing that everyone takes for granted is make sure to check your selveges twice. nothing like *almost* getting the whole pattern piece on that second layer. i learned when i was pretty young that the machines that fold and roll owe me no favors, so i make sure the selveges match; always measure twice... don't be afraid to use too many pins. some projects may make you feel more in control if using lots of pins (esp around curves). I also keep a pin magnet or cushion is several places that i sew. dropping pins could be deadly for all my kitties.

  21. makeitfitTrish | | #21

    Whenever threading a needle, in addition to putting a little spit on the end of the thread, I was told to put a dab on the eye of the needle itself. Wow! What a difference! The thread will generally just flow right through the eye with no drag, no miss! It seems gross to be spitting in the sewing room, but hey! whatever works! :)

    I wish I could remember who gave me this tip...

  22. Terianz | | #22

    Don't sew when you're tired, as you're more likely to make mistakes (Trust me, I know!)

  23. NiniS | | #23

    I like to match the print or plaid on my pockets and other pattern pieces. Here's an example of how I match the plaid on pockets: I cut out the skirt piece and use pins to mark the fabric where I want the pocket to sit. Then I place the pocket pattern piece over that spot and trace the plaid on that pattern piece, using colored pencils if necessary. Be sure not to use a marking pen that will bleed through the pattern paper onto the fabric. I get perfectly matched plaids and patterns every time.

  24. FernandaM | | #24

    I am new to sewing and one tip that I learned from a book (don't remember which one) is to use the blind hem foot to edgestich.

    Thank you.

  25. littlemissprim | | #25

    use pins to transfer darts from your pattern onto your fabric. pierce the marks on the pattern tissue with your pin through the two layers of fabric then take additional pins to pick up a thread at each cross point (on the wrong side of the fabric), when all marks are transferred remove the pattern, fold the fabric & match up each corresponding pin... no mess, no tracing & quick!

  26. Orangie | | #26

    The tip that I am still trying to learn is when a pattern says baste or staystitch, DO IT! No amount of time saved by skipping the step makes up for the headaches later. I seem to forget this tip when I'm in a hurry, but I always pay for it later.

  27. KarenLongo | | #27

    I am new to sewing but this has helped me. I bought a thread storage case that has tall pins for the spools of thread. I am able to keep the filled bobbin from the same spool of thread stored with the spool of thread on the same tall pin in the storage case. Now, I never have to guess which bobbin of blue thread goes with which spool of blue thread, when threads are so close in color. Each tall pin in the storage case holds a spool of thread and its own filled bobbin.

  28. User avater
    angelap | | #28

    I put a scrap of tearaway stabilizer about 2" long over the throat plate hole & under the edge of the fabric, sticking out past the edge so you can hold it. Put your needle down, and hold the stabilizer where it's sticking out, and the thread tails together. Then I shorten the stitch length for the 1st few stitches of the seam instead of backing up to lock the stitches. No more thread jams when starting a seam! I think I read this in Fine Machine Sewing Book by Carol Ahles, but don't hold me to that, I read as many tips as I can because I need all the help I can get!

  29. sweetann | | #29

    If a person will put end of the thread between their thumb and finger were it doesn't show and run the needle between the fingers, it will thread the needle everytime.
    It just came to me one day to do this.

    2nd tip.
    If you have heavy fabric that you are making a skirt out of and it has an open pleat. I make a lining for the skirt and sew a piece of the skirt fabric on the lining where the open pleat will be. Make the fabric about 2 inches bigger and serged the edge, then sew on to the lining. Makes a pretty opening.
    I had to figure out a way to save a skirt that the open pleat was to heavy to turn.

  30. Neosha | | #30

    One doesn't need to set aside hours to get sewing done. 10-20-30 minutes of sewing can allow one to accomplish a great deal. This came from a book by Nancy Zieman titled "10-20-30 minutes to sew." If one has the sewing organized, then in 10 minutes one can sew a number of seams, layout a pattern, thread and change the needle to get ready for a new project.

  31. sewsuglybags | | #31

    I love reading these tips by everyone! The tip I most use is to take the time to make a muslin. I also like to do basting stitches when sewing the pieces together, just in case something gets fudged. Then I sew again with regular stitching, and press (and try on again and again) as I go. Totally time consuming, but my resolution this year for sewing is to take my time and make really well fitting and beautifully made (even on the inside) garments.

  32. JAL85 | | #32

    Here is a tip that I learned from experience: before beginning a big sewing project, I fill at least 2 or 3 bobbins with thread so that when one runs out, another is ready to go!!

  33. User avater
    koshermama | | #33

    When hand sewing, I keep a dryer sheet handy to run the thread though so that it doesn't tangle.

  34. Neosha | | #34
  35. User avater
    smfsprout | | #35

    My mom taught me that the seam ripper is my friend. Besides removing seams that are not where they are supposed to be, it has a host of household applications as well. I keep one in each bathroom for removing those annoying clothing labels and have occasionally used it to remove the elastic band from my granddaughter's pony-tail.

  36. Neosha | | #36

    Just had to add two more.

    Build in shape, eliminate bulk! From a sewing professor. I took tailoring from her a number of years ago and I still use that as my mantra for all types of sewing, not just tailoring.

    Also, read the pattern instructions completely, sometimes several times and mark important instructions before even purchasing fabric and supplies.

  37. swagenhals | | #37

    Since pressing is as, if not more, important than sewing technique, the most important tip I learned is to always press the stitched seam flat first before pressing the seam open. Further, if the seam is enclosed seam, first press the seam flat, then open, and THEN turn the fabric inside out. It gives the seam a crisp and professional finish.

  38. DeutschFrau | | #38

    I take the time to set in a zipper right the first time so I don't have to do it again. I devised this method, although I learned at an ASG seminar that it helps to sew both sides of the zipper in the same direction. That's the key to my method:

    1. I first sew the seam, using a long basting stitch for the part of it that will be removed later for the zipper, and using very short stitches below that to secure what will become the top end of the seam.

    2. I then pin the zipper in place, then hand-baste it and remove the pins. I don't want to sew over pins or stop to remove them because that results in a stitching line that is less than straight. Hand-basting actually saves time because it helps me avoid making mistakes.

    3. Then I start machine-sewing at the bottom of the zipper, making the short horizontal line of stitching across the bottom, stopping at the corner with the needle down, then stitching up to the top.

    4. I then go back to the bottom of the zipper and sew the opposite side. I stitch in the opposite direction over the handful of stitches at the horizontal bottom of the zipper (so the stitching at the bottom of the zipper is extra secure). I pivot and sew up to the top end of the closed zipper, completing the installation.

    5. I pull the threads at the bottom of the zipper to the inside and tie them securely.

    If I'm worried about having to sew crooked around the zipper tab, I use one of two methods:
    a. Install the zipper higher than it needs to be so the tab does not get in the way. (If there's a waistband, I may not even have to cut off the top of the zipper--while it's unzipped, of course. I may be able to hide the top end in the waistband if it doesn't add too much bulk.)
    b. While sewing along either side of the zipper, stop with the needle down and move the zipper tab out of the way before completing the line of stitching.

    You may think my method is awfully time-consuming, but it gives great results and saves the time of picking out stitches and re-installing a zipper.

  39. PippiLongstocking | | #39

    For an extra-professional look on printed fabrics, I match the thread to the color of the fabric where I'll stitch a buttonhole. I sewed a little girl's dress with clear buttons to avoid breaking up the cute printed pattern. I made each buttonhole a different color because each was placed on a different color of the fabric. It took very little time to change the top thread twice, and it gave the dress a great look. I didn't change the bobbin thread. This is my own tip.

  40. Ranchera | | #40

    I learned to sew from my Mom who is now 96 yrs young and still alive. I learned on her Singer peddle machine. When sewing on the bias, make sure the material you are using is the drapy kind. It is harder to work with heavier material.

  41. User avater
    thesearethebesttimes | | #41

    More of a cutting tip, but I didn't spend on the specialty adjustable cutting table. So I use a regular folding table and bed riser to raise it. It's cheap but it works.

  42. peej2 | | #42

    I would love to give you one tip, but there are so many I'm learning since I've taken up sewing again in the last couple years.
    I love the finishing techniqes for snaps an hook/eyes I got from the Threads e-newsletter. As a matter of fact, I've been getting so many great tips and hints that I was given a subscription as a gift for Christmas.

  43. Suksan | | #43

    First--Plan your project--make sure you have everything you need on hand so you don't have to stop midway. Evaluate the time you REALLY have for this project and the complexity your skill and time will allow for success (pick the project and fabric accordingly). Make a trial garment from "throwaway" fabric if you aren't REALLY sure of the fit. (You can do one of these trials in an hour--front,back, one sleeve, stay stitch neckline etc to check fit and hang)it will save you "oddles of time"! Take breaks if it is a long project to allow your eyes to "rest" and your shoulders.

    Do everything you can in preperation to make this project an A+--you will feel better for everything else!

    Your tutorials have allowed me to introduce several people to sewing or to return to sewing--the end result has been 6 subscriptions to Threads and sucessful projects!

  44. madrina | | #44

    I always leave my machine with a neutral color thread & bobbin in place, set on a straight stitch, with all purpose settings.The foot is down, the needle is down and scissors & seam ripper are handy. Straight pins and pincushion with emery at hand. It's amazing how often you have to fix "just one little thing" when you are hurrying to get out of the house. This way, you can fix it properly, quick as you please!

  45. Mrs_SewSew | | #45

    I took a sewing class at Redlands Sewing Center. The instructor shared with us when sewing to a point, stitch one straight line before you pivot. Your corners will turn out more rounded.

  46. User avater
    ktkatherine | | #46

    Breathe, stay calm... some of the best accidents work into really amazing outcomes!

  47. WJoanY | | #47

    press. press, press, so important in my quilting and in alll other kinds of sewing too.

  48. Marlene44 | | #48

    My daughter helped me make a duct tape dress form of myself. It's great. It's exactly me. When I couldn't get one jacket pattern to fit, I adapted it to the dress form. I got lots of compliments. I ordered a CD that showed how to make the form out of duct tape, but you can find lots of ideas by just doing a search on the web. Now I want to make one of my daughter. She lives a ways away and it's always hard to get her in for a fitting.

  49. User avater
    bfavorite | | #49

    My mother, who was vision impaired but still loved to sew, always used a high contrast thread when she was basting garments, so the thread would be easier to see when she was ready to remove it. I picked up the same habit, not out of necessity but for the sake of convenience. It's so easy to spot any stray basting threads that need to be removed before the garment can be worn.

  50. Sheila8383 | | #50

    I'm just now returning to sewing after a 20 year break but the best piece of advice I received was from my step mother. Her advice was to take your time, read the directions well, and the iron and seam ripper are your friend. I found her advice very helpful as some of the other earlier posts. I also agree that if you are tired, it is time to take a break and return later.

  51. User avater
    kins | | #51

    I always keep a scrap of the fabric I used for each pattern in a zip bag along with any changes I made.I was taught that at one of my sewing classes.

  52. withagee | | #52

    Without a doubt, the most important tip for me is to press every seam after sewing, before including it in the next stage of the project. When I first started sewing, 60 years ago, (Wow! whatever happened to all that time?), I was SO impatient to get the item finished. However, my Mum drilled into me that without the pressing, all that careful cutting and accurate sewing would only end up with a lumpy product that shouted "home-made". She was SO correct!! My Mum Rules!!

  53. User avater
    Francesca94402 | | #53

    I'm not sure whether I discovered this myself, but I later read it in a Martha Stewart book. Wrap and pin a piece of cloth (I used felt) around the vertical post of your sewing machine and use it as a pincushion. It is so handy that I don't forget to take the pins out before I almost run over them with the needle. I also tuck a seam ripper into the cloth, and sometime small scissors. Unlike magnetic holders for scissors and such, the cloth has no ill effects on the machine.

  54. byelihandworks | | #54

    When changing upper thread, clip close to the spool, lift the pressure foot and pull the thread down through the needle. This helps keep the "thread fuzzies" to a minimum where the tension disks and take up lever are.

    Also, do not use canned air to clean your machine, most of the time a person blows more "INTO' the machine than out of it.

    One more, just like you car, take it in for a yearly check up. It will work for you many years longer if you keep up the maintenance. If you don't use it regularly, set a date to take it out, remove the needle and let her run for a few minutes. This allows the oil to lubricate the motor and keeps things working well.

  55. User avater
    Minimauve | | #55

    My most useful tips are:

    1. Read all the information on the back of the pattern envelope while still in the store, before you buy the pattern. No surprises when you get home.

    2. Read the information again when you get home, open up all the tissue pieces and have a picture in your mind of how everything fits together.

    3. Pin everything until it doesn't have a prayer of shifting and don't cut until you are sure it's all correct.

    Wish someone had told me these tips when I first started sewing.

  56. ridgetop01 | | #56

    The most useful tip I've found is to make up a muslin of a pattern before sewing in my fashion fabric. This technique allows me to adjust the fit, make alterations, modify the design, and generally makes my finished piece much more wearable and satisfying. It definitely takes longer, but the results are worth it!

  57. sewcrazynancy | | #57

    I sew all kinds of projects from heirloom and embroidery to home dec, so I use many different kinds of machine needles. Where to store the slightly used needles was a big problem (you don't want to return used to the box of new) until I saw a clever idea in a sewing machine store. Using a simple red tomato pin cushion, marked with marker on each wedge or section of the tomato, one section marked for 80 U(universal), 90 U, E (embroidery), 90 J (jeans) and all the other needles I use frequently. So out of the machine and into the top of the tomato pincushion, near the leaves. After using it again, I move it further down the tomato wedge, indicating more useage. By the time it's been used and returned so often it is near the bottom of the tomato, I throw it away. This system has worked for me for many years. I'm happy to share it! Nancy Bensimon [email protected]

  58. MargeryC | | #58

    I like to re-enforce my tissue patterns. For a pattern I think I'll use several times, mounting it on heavier paper ensures it will last through multiple usages; sometimes use cardboard weight paper so I can trace around the pattern shape onto the fabric, then cut. I use the self stick address labels that I get in the mail to make pattern corners & markings more sturdy. F'instance, I might put a label behind any matching symbols, such as circles, on the pattern. If it's near the edge, I use a small paper punch to cut a hole at the spot. I can pencil mark or tailor tack through the hole.
    If there's a corner on the pattern, I put the label across the area so the pattern piece is less likely to erode with use.

  59. StudioM | | #59

    Sorry to be redundant, but sew, press, sew, press, etc. Makes all the difference!

  60. snowm | | #60

    I think I learned this in college from one of my sewing teachers: Press up hem allowances on pants or sleeves before you sew any of the seams. Then you just have to press the little bit by the seam before hemming.

  61. donnasmile | | #61

    To store my threads and bobbins, I use a set of drawers from the hardware store designed to hold screws, nails etc. Each drawer holds all thread and corresponding bobbins of all the shades of a single colour. One drawer holds the various presser feet and sewing machine needles, while another keeps black and white thread in various weights and empty bobbins.

    I came up with this idea so I could quickly see if I had the right shade of thread for a project and easily packed away the whole thing when required.

  62. JanaBO60 | | #62

    After 35 years I'm trying to get back into sewing again. I want the book, where can I order it?

  63. LostCat | | #63

    From Mama Cat - speed is not important, accuracy and completeness is; take the time to finish your seams properly, clip your lose threads, and let your pressing cool. Sewing is a hobby - take the time to enjoy it, and take the time to master each step of the process.

    Also from Mama Cat - if you have problems finding off the rack clothes that fit, expect to have the same fitting problems with patterns that you may purchase. Invest in a good book that explains how to make adjustments to patterns; locate those adjustments that pertain to you, and learn how to make those adjustments to your patterns -- expect to have to make those adjustments every time -- that's life, your unique.

  64. SewDarlene | | #64

    My high school home ec teacher taught us to make perfect darts. Instead of back stitching the seam at the dart point, leave 6-inch thread tails at dart point. Tie the tails in a square knot, then thread both tails into a sewing needle. Insert needle into the dart and gently tug the square not through the fabric. Clip thread close to the fabric.

  65. scarfette | | #65

    I do not have enough space in my sewing room to have a permanent cutting table, so I set up 2 ironing boards at their highest level, about 8 inches apart, and place a folding cardboard cutting board on top of them. It is just the right height and I can walk all around it to cut out my fabric. When finished, I just fold up the cutting board, and ironing boards and put them in the closet.

  66. LannyK | | #66

    My most valuable lesson came from my grandmother. I was always very lazy when it came to pressing seams open because I disliked having to set up the ironing board and iron. She showed me how to press seams open with my fingernails! Works every time(as long as you have fingernails!).

  67. tigerb | | #67

    The tip that I was given a few years ago has been so ingrained I almost never think about it anymore: New project? New needle! Needles are cheap compared to the frustration you may encounter if your needle develops a burr or a bent tip. Choose a new needle for every project and pick the right one for your thread and fabric.

  68. Lvgolden | | #68

    When ripping open a seam I use a rolled invisible tape to pick up all the ripped thread

  69. sarahnormanGA | | #69

    I am basically self-taught so I don't have any of my own sewing tips really. Something I really make a point of doing though is this: After every sewing project is complete or done for the day, tidy up all your notions, scraps, patterns, etc. If you tidy up each time, you will save a lot of time looking for your things later or cleaning up one massive mess that has built up.

  70. Trainer304 | | #70

    I hope this does not sound silly, but the best tip I ever found was in the Threads magazine. Someone suggested wrapping an elastic around spools of thread to keep them from unwinding and becoming a tangled mess. I also wrap the accompanying bobbin to the spool. It saves time and it keeps me neat and clean.

  71. pbjsews | | #71

    One of my favorite sewing tips came from Barbara Deckert in #73 Threads. The tip was how to cut a pattern on plaid without having to cut only single layers. Her tips on how to be sure the fabric is alligned before cutting has saved me many headache since plaids are a favorite of mine.

    Experts, thanks for sharing your tips.

    Barbara Gustafson, Louisville, KY

  72. User avater
    WillaMcNeill | | #72

    Well, not sure this is the most important but I am sure to have a magnet near my sewing. And to be sure all the pins respond to the magnet. If they don't, out they go. It makes it so easy to pick up dropped ones. The magnet I use came from the big boxes like Home Depot or Lowes. It is about the size of a ball point pen but stretched out, it is about 24 inches long.

  73. designerone | | #73

    This is a tip I actually came up with myself when I went to get some blood work done. It’s using the stretchy bandage stuff they sometimes use that they put all the way around your arm and it sticks to itself? Vets also use it a lot on dogs when they get IV's. You can buy it though in the band aid section of Wal-Mart or at stores that sell supplies for animals (It's usually cheaper there).It knda looks like ace bandages. Anyway now to the tip. I buy the widest roll (it's cheaper that way) then cut it to about half inch or even quarter inch strips just long enough to go around your thread then stretch it a little. It will stick to itself and keep your thread in place. Just make sure you get the end under the tape. It leaves no residue. Works GREAT. You can also use this for your bobbins just wrap around the bobbin itself instead of the thread so you can see the color. Put the end of the thread on top of the bobbin before you wrap. Hope you like this as much as me. If you get it at the animal supply store you can get it in different colors. Don’t make the mistake I did and cut long strips and then cut into narrow strips because then it is really hard to get apart. Just cut long enough to go around whatever size your thread is plus about ¼ “ then cut into narrow strips.

  74. fotofashion | | #74

    Learn how to best use the tools you have spent so much money for. Your ham, sleeve roll, point presser, different types of scissors, even your iron. Know the capabilities of your machines, sewing machine, serger, coverstitch machine, hemmer, etc. Really read the instruction manuals, keep them readily available and do some practice stitches-buttonholes especially.
    Arrange adequate lighting for each area or machine, including over the ironing board. You need good light to cut, sew and press accurately.
    Learn how to use a rotary cutter. Of course, you need a cutting mat for that purpose. But you will be surprised how much faster and more accurate your cutting out will be. I don't fool around with the little rinky-dinky one. I use the 60MM. The medium size is good for cutting out patterns after I print them up on my 36" plotter. I use Wild Ginger patternmaking software to make my patterns. NAYY
    I keep my little tools, 6" ruler, pencils, pens, tracing wheels, etc. in a holder I got at a stationery store right on the cutting table. They don't get scattered all over the place and are readily accessible.
    My sewing room is set up for MY needs. I am left-handed so the U shape starts with the cutting table at the extreme right, the sewing machine is to its left, the sergers, hemmer and coverstitch machine are to its left and the ironing board is at the top of the U. I use a rolling office chair to navigate between the machines and the ironing board which is set to use while seated. Each area has its own tools. So, I have several 6" rulers, several seam rippers, several scissors, several boxes of pins.

  75. User avater
    runwaygal | | #75

    I learned these tips from a sewing club at Heirlooms Forever.
    Keep your machine clean of lint and oiled properly.. I always check and remove the throat plate to clean the lint. There should be no felt pad of lint under the plate. Then double check your needle. Most frustration comes from a bad needle with a burr. When your thread keeps breaking it is usually the needle. They also taught us how to check our bobbin case tension. Pull out the case, hold onto the thread and if the tension is correct the case should be able to dangle free. If the tension is not right the case will drop to the floor. There is a screw on the case to make adjustments. These have saved me alot of frustration over the years when my machine seems to be contrary.

  76. kjdobbs | | #76

    This tip came from Lucky at Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, MI. Pressing is everything in quality sewing. To avoid pressing the seam allowance outline onto some "impressionable" fabrics, keep a 1/2 to 1 inch diameter wooden dowel rod close by the ironing board. Slip the dowel rod under the seam line and press open the seam. The seam allowances do not get pressed, just the seam line. It is brilliant.

  77. Vickysews | | #77

    I keep a notebook with all my projects listed. I first list the date, pattern number for that project. I notate any changes I made to the pattern and any specialty stitches or other embelishments I might have used. I also staple a snip of the fabric that I used to the page. If there were a lot of changes or notes, I photocopy the page and slide it into the pattern envelop. There have been many times I have wondered "what stitch did I use on that other project", "how much did I adjust the shoulder slope"? Now I can refer to my notebook and find the answers quickly. This has been a real time saver for me!

  78. mozeyrn | | #78

    The best thing I have learned came from a co-worker. She taught me that when starting out not to be too hard on myself if I made mistakes. She said, "that's why there are seam rippers."

  79. kzsewing | | #79

    After reading the tips and so forth this has started me back into the sewing thing again even working on the stash. Tips have all helped me where I was going wrong and how to do somethings in a neater way so that it looks more finished. Getting back into the sewing things and working on projects that are posted to try keep things rolling.

  80. abcameo | | #80

    My comment and the tip I'd like to share is particularly directed to WillaMcNeill (above) who said her tip was to have a magnet near her sewing.

    I was warned by the commpany that sold me my computerized Janome that a magnet near a computerized machine can totally ruin it!! So I've always kept my magnetic pin holder a pretty far distance from my machine. Heeding this warning, I quit using the magnetic fabric guide which I had always previously used on my former Kenmore non-computerized machine even though it was so very user-friendly and convenient. HTH

  81. jeannearis | | #81

    Basting saves far more time than it costs. If there is anything tricky about the seam, I baste. So simple. So easy. I baste. And test sew. Even if I'm working on a continued project, I'll sew a quick test seam when I turn the machine on for today.

  82. 24g | | #82

    One hint I learned early on was to measure twice, cut once, You will rarely make a mistake if you do this.

  83. hotdotyuki | | #83

    When I sew I use different tools, seam ripper, zipper foot, spagetti pull, bodkin, elastic pull, small clippers, awl, etc. These are all metal. Therefore I have a magnetic strip, that is usually used for knives or for handyman tools, that I have placed on the wall in front of my sewing machine. Whenever I need a different foot or seam ripper, it is directly in front of me....no searching.

  84. pinkturtle | | #84

    Although it was many, many years ago my mom taught me to sew and gave me this tip. She sewed many of my clothes and when she finished them she always sewed 2 extra buttons (about 1" apart) on the inside of the hem. Then she wrapped thread around one button over to the next one for several layers. Then when you needed to replace a button or fix a tear or change the hem the thread match was not a problem.

  85. User avater
    ustabahippie | | #85

    So many tips....which one is my fave?
    When top-stitching corners without thread ends to get you going after turning each one; keep a double threaded needle handy and run it through the corner before you get there. When you've turned the corner you can grab the threads and make sure your machine doesn't bog down on those first few stitches. Learned this from an Honduran professional seamstress who could make a welt pocket practically blindfolded!

  86. 3feathers | | #86

    Baste, baste, baste. My mother loved to do tailoring and taught me the value of basting and pressing every seam as you sew. That was many years ago and it still holds true.

  87. squirrel_ee | | #87

    I have learned over the years to not be in a hurry or I will make mistakes and get frustrated and waste materials. Trying to be the neatest that you can be is difference between success and disappointed.

  88. Mariesainte | | #88

    My tip came from a real couturiere, Kristin Frieman, when I asked her advice about managing my stash of fabric. She recommended regular purging--getting rid of poor quality fabric or anything I am sure I won't use, for any reason. My stash was crowding me out of my sewing room and wasting space, some because I couldn't remember what I had intended them for, others cheap finds that turned out to have no value. This has saved me from suffocating in bad fabric, and opened my work space to be productive and supportive of better work.

    Another tip I have learned myself is to work on the fit before worrying about anything else. Beautiful fit with hasty construction is still better than bad fit and exquisite finishing--I can go back later to improve a finish, but a bad fit is hard to fix after the garment is done.

  89. mambakitty | | #89

    I sew a lot of doll clothes, and the pattern pieces are small. I press a new sheet of pattern pieces, then attach iron-on interfacing. It gives the flimsy tissue some body and make the pieces easier to work with. I figured this out myself.
    Love the posted tips. Learned some good ones.

  90. graypeape | | #90

    to be honest, i don't sew yet- it's a new year's resolution!!!
    this book would be very helpful i'm sure (just reading the comments has been helpful!!). thanks for the chance :)

  91. emmyt | | #91

    I was having a problem with a sticky needle after sewing sequenced fabric. A very nice person at the fabric store told me about Sewer Aid. What a life saver, I now use it all the time whenever my needle get gummy from many kinds of fabric from microsuede to sequenced fabric or if you are using the sticky backed stabilizer when embroidering. What a time saver and saves many a headache.

  92. Munchie66 | | #92

    One of my favourite tips is from Sewing with Nancy. To help ease in a sleeve cap, while sewing the gathering stitches on the sleeve hold your finger behind the presser foot to force in little gathers.

  93. aussielady | | #93

    I have been sewing for over 45 years and I am still learning new things all the time. Just recently I came across the tip of when you are sewing gathered fabric to a flat piece of fabric (such as in a sleeve armhole or a ruffle), to sew the seam with the flat fabric side on top. That way the presser foot will not catch in the gathers or threads and will ease in any extra fabric.

  94. Krixin | | #94

    This is going to seem really obvious to so many of you out there, but when I was a new sewer and discovered this it saved my sewing life. I used to try to thread the bobbin thread by hand up through the feed dog and needle plate. It took ages and was so frustrating. Then someone finally mention that holding the top thread while rotating the hand wheel would pick up the bobbin thread. I felt like the clouds had opened and the sun had shined down directly on my machine.

  95. LilMacy | | #95

    The tip I have learned from my mom was to have a specific place for all sewing needs. That way, I don't have to waste time searching everywhere when I need to use something. I took a few night courses in sewing a few years ago but was not able to continue due to family, job and health issues. Now I am retired, an empty-nester and ready to spend some time to sewing for family and friends. I have set aside a small sewing room in my house. I have enjoyed reading the tips in the Threads newsletter and have been compiling them for future reference. Thank you for sharing.

  96. church_pianist | | #96

    The best thing I use in sewing was taught me by my mother. When sewing gathering stitches, I sew them on the right side of the fabric. When I reach the end of the first line of stitching, I turn 90%, sititch to the place of the next line, turn 90% and stitch back to starting position. Using this method, you only have to pull the thread ends without anchoring the other end or fear of pulling out the gathering stitches. When done stitching the gathered piece to the straight piece, just snip the short side of gathering stitches and pull out.

  97. mspatscreations | | #97

    My favorite tip is to hand baste in my zippers before I sew them in. Since I started this, all my zippers have been sewn in right the FIRST time! Another neat tip that someone gave me that I haven't tried is to use aluminum foil to copy a piece of fabric on a chair. By carefully smoothing the aluminum foil all over the piece (such as a wing back), you can get a perfect pattern piece. Has anyone else tried this?

    By the way, my 56th birthday is January 17! This book would make a WONDERFUL birthday gift!! ;-)

  98. maryannsewz | | #98

    Since I often teach classes and quilt in locations other than my studio, a flat fishing tackle box from WallyWorld with adjustable compartments has become a great way to keep all my accessory feet, machine needles, tools, and marking tools handy and secure. It easily tucks into a tote bag or my Tutto Machine On Wheels, and makes finding a needed item quick and easy. Even if turned upside down, all items stay safe and secure in their individual compartments.

  99. Roznos | | #99

    The best piece of sewing advice: make a muslin. I know it sounds pretty simplistic, but a muslin is sort of a practice run to check fit, perfect techniques, and to view the proposed garment on. Eventhough a muslin takes extra time, I as always make one - it saves me sewing frustrations once I get to the fashion fabric.

  100. alanapr1 | | #100

    I found that it is usually a nightmare trying to get patterns back into their envelopes after I have used them. So, when I use a pattern, I do not try and put it back in the envelope. Instead, I use the pocket kind of page protector. I slit the envelope sides, and put the pattern pieces between (they can stick out, at least to the width of the page protector). I slip the whole thing into the page protector pocket. I can still see the envelope info, but I haven't had to over fold the pattern to put it away.

  101. Megsp | | #101

    I am just learning how to sew, and don't really have any skill yet :) I put off learning for a long time, until my mom gave me the tip that has been the most helpful to me so far... JUST GET STARTED!! She said that starting to learn something new is the hardest part, once you've tried a few times, and start to learn as you go, you'll be fine. So far, so good!

  102. alanapr1 | | #102

    A 2nd tip - As my kids were growing up, I made all of their pyjamas. I found a wonderful pattern that had multiple sizes in it. Because I always made them this style of pj's, when the pattern was on sale, I bought multiple copies, and cut out each size. That way I had the right size pattern for each child when cutting out, and I didn't have to fiddle around trying to cut the fabric out without cutting into the pattern. Saved me hours of time, and was well worth the extra expense (which wasn't that much, since I bought them on sale).

  103. dawn | | #103

    I use Burda magazine patterns a lot, so I have to add seam allowances. I set a compass to a 1/2" width so I can easily trace along the edges of my pattern. I've also started using a mechanical pencil for a better line and so I don't have to remove the pencil for sharpening. I found some short (about 4" long) mechanical pencils that are just perfect! I came out with this idea myself.

  104. gda | | #104

    My best tool, is patience. I get so excited to start a new project, but learned early on to enjoy the journey. It never fells that the sooner I try to finish a project and get in a rush, I will miss something and then have to go back and have to undo, then redo. Each stitch taken, pressing, reading instructions even changing the needles and thread will lead to that final aaahhh and a wonderful feeling of satisfaction.

  105. colleendifran | | #105

    the best piece of sewing advice i have received lately is using a double threaded needle and thread to help turn a corner. When turning a corner right side out,
    pull the needle and thread through the exact corner seam. Pull the thread through so it is half in and out, pull the needle and threads out together until it pulls the corner out completely. works great!!
    Read this in a quilting magazine..

  106. thenicholas3 | | #106

    The most useful tip i ever received was from my sister Jacquie. I was struggling to sew a wedding dress for my daughter and was in way over my head (or so I thought). I called my sister who is an expert seamstress and she told me to stop being afraid and if I don't understand all the rules, then make up my own. That set me free to adjust the pattern as was needed and sew it my way instead of the way written in the directions. The dress came out beautifully and I'm no longer afraid to try something new.

  107. Chicagoshar | | #107

    As a sewing teacher, one of the best tips I've used and given to my students is to change your sewing machine needles frequently. If you're starting to have problems with your machine, chances are something either bent the needle or the needle has picked up burrs. There have been times I've taken the whole machine apart, changed thread and then - oh my! I didn't check the needle. Almost always is the problem!
    Also, use the right needle for whatever task your doing - the heavier the fabric, the larger needle size you'll need.
    And since I saw the birthday note, Jan. 16 IS my birthday, so I'll get in that line!!! :-)

  108. CPeterman | | #108

    Drop my needle before dropping my pressure foot to prevent the fabric from shifting. I recently learned this in a class and it's been very helpful. I mentioned this to my husband, who's not a sewer, but will occasionally have a reason to sew straight seams for a project here and there and he said, Oh, that's how I always do it. Go figure!

  109. NoraBora | | #109

    I cut the selvage edge from silk or fine cotton fabrics to use as stay tape. I keep them in zip lock bags. Saves time, money and is "green" because you are using what already exists. I am not sure where I learned it.

  110. User avater
    kritya | | #110

    I am a beginner , and since I cannot sew a straight line properly , my best tip till now is to practice , practice , practice with a needle and a thread on a piece of paper . So far , I seem to be making some improvements .

  111. MerrySunshine | | #111

    Make every effort to learn your craft or hobby as if you are a professional. Subscribe to magazines about sewing, buy books and dvds, watch tv programs, attend seminars. Purchase tools and equipment that will enable you to produce quality garments and crafts, which will feed your passion to create more. Even your mistakes will become a designer opportunity to create something you were convinced would end up in the trash. Be open to change and new ideas and techniques. I've invented some ways of my own to create a one of a kind. I learned sewing in high school in the 60's and the only things that I still use that have remained a constant is: keeping everything on grainline, pressing, and preshrinking fabrics. Sewing is such fun!!!!!!

  112. sewseitz | | #112

    I have a sewing kit made from a hard-case eyeglass case. It contains needles, pins, small scissors, a bobbin of thread, needle pull, safety pin, needle threader, unstitcher, and soap sliver for marking fabric and sharpening needles and pins.
    The pins and needles are stuck in small pin cushions glued to top of case and the rest are in the bottom.
    Nancy in IN

  113. AnnJoan | | #113

    A hint that I learned from my high school home economics teacher, is to always be sure that the thread take-up lever is at its highest position before you begin to sew. This prevents the Machine needle from becoming unthreaded.

    Another valuable hint is one that I learned from Sewing With Nancy. As you are stitching a dart, gradually reduce the stitch size to a very small stitch,as you reach the point of the dart and stitch off the fabric for a few stitches. Next lift the presser foot and put the needle back in the wider section of the dart that you have stitched and lock your stitches. This makes a very neat dart point, without a bumpy knot at the point.

  114. User avater
    Stitchy | | #114

    I use chapstick on sticky vinyl. The pressure foot doesn't drag and the residue can be wiped away.

  115. Artsycraftsy | | #115

    Rest before you're tired. Mistakes will be far less likely. Adapted from a 12-step program suggestion.

  116. User avater
    auschick | | #116

    Make sure that any house you live in is located within 5 minutes of the nearest fabric store. hehe :)

    Well, I don't know what my best tip is, but I do love having an organized craft room with all my stuff set up and ready to go - ironing board, cutting table, sewing table etc. Having everything in a work triangle saves me so much time. And when I am not finished with something, i can leave it out, close the door, and not be stressed about the mess :)

  117. Luchadora | | #117

    My husband taught me "measure twice, cut once".

  118. quiltingsenior | | #118

    The tip that has been most useful to me is one from my former adult ed teacher. She taught us the way to easily create flying geese blocks by making more than one at a time.

  119. donnasquaw | | #119

    I had to learn how to sew on my own, which I'm not that good. But I do try the best I can. I have a real nice sewing basket full of all the goodies. I have a sewing machine that I purchased about 30 years ago. It still runs, sometimes I wonder how. I would love to win this book. I know it would help me a lot.

  120. User avater
    Miira | | #120

    I guess the most important tip I ever got came from my mother, who was not a sewer. She always told me if whatever I made looked homemade, I needed to learn to do it better. She was never a fan of the "loving hands at home" look. She helped me to make my projects look professional.

  121. piepe | | #121

    First and foremost is having a sewing chair that properly supports the body and a sewing table at the correct height for the chair, both of which are placed so that proper lighting enables being able to see what you are sewing without straining your back, neck and shoulders. Not only does the correct set-up provide comfort, it improves your sewing!

  122. User avater
    rbowkett | | #122

    My favourite tip is from a lady I worked with at a sewing machine shop. She would teach everyone to sit properly at their sewing machines by saying, "Nose, needle, navel." If all three parts were in a line, you wouldn't get a backache while sewing!

  123. User avater
    tajicat | | #123

    I can't wait to go back and read and copy all the other tips.
    I have two tips told to me by a girlfriend when we were in our early teens. First she said to try on the pattern, pin it together and do any corrections before cutting and sewing the fabric. Second, if the pattern was one I would be using more than twice, to make a more permanent pattern out of interface.
    My birthday is January 25th.

  124. kitraz13 | | #124

    My best tip is the old adage measure twice, cut once. It's better to overplan than realize you did it wrong and waste all that fabric!

  125. User avater
    etchedinthread | | #125

    The best tip I ever found was for folding and organizing my fabric stash. I used to have just enough to keep in my hope chest, but it has outgrown 2 rooms in my home now! I don't remember where I read the article. I thought it was Threads but can't find it in the archives of my DVD so must have been Sew News? I fold by yards, then in thirds (12 inches width), then folded edge to selvedge. My stash is organized, I can find fabrics in a jiffy, and they fit perfectly in my Ikea storage unit with 25 cubicles! Plus I can just open it up and see how many yards I have at a glance.

  126. Skye_Dancer | | #126

    My tip is whatever you do, do it honestly. That works in sewing as well as in everyday life. But it is not a lesson that Deepika Prakash has learned. Did she tell Threads that she obtained the sewing tips from the users of PatternReview by promising the contributors a portion of her advance? Or that she later refused to pay anyone, telling them she donated their portion to "charity"? Shame on her! Cheating will always come back to bite you, and it's bad karma too.

  127. IO64 | | #127

    My best tip is to never hurry and do it perfect the first time. I always sew in a relaxed way and enjoy the process as a kind of meditation. Always pin or baste the fabric before sewing. Always cut the threads after sewing and always press every seam right after it is sewn.

  128. jss3 | | #128

    The more pins the better! My daughter always has to remind me of this when we are sewing. Especially when doing a quilt with smaller pieces I always want to skip the pinning steps or shortcut them, and she won't let me! What a good girl. Don't forget to pin, pin pin!

  129. User avater
    suze | | #129

    So many excellent tips have come up in Threads over the years, but I find the general use of post-it notes is my most-used one. I stick them on the front of my machine when I want to remember a stitch setting, I have them in my bedside drawer for when I'm rifling through sewing books at night. Stick them onto pattern envelopes to remind me of the pitfalls, alterations, etc. There's no end of uses!!
    Happy New Year to everyone.

  130. TalyQu | | #130

    The best tip I have learned from NMSL (nursing mother's sewing list) a few years ago is to make a muslin for clothing I sew for myself and my girls. I am so off "standard" measurements and even my growing daughters do need lots of adjustments for a near perfect fit. Doing a quick muslin out of old sheets seems like extra work at first, but it saves so much headache when trying to fit the final garment. And it gives us any idea whether we like the silhuette in the first place. I only machine baste the seams and use the muslin to draw, mark on it all the alterations that need to be done. If a lot of changes are done, then I simply take the muslin apart and use the pieces as the new pattern :)

  131. MarthaHolmes | | #131

    I put each pattern into a large (one gallon) zippered plastic bag and write the pattern number in the upper right corner. I put the pattern envelope facing out so I can see it at a glance. The bag is large enough so that I can refold the pieces without making myself crazy.

    Also, I copy the back of the envelope where the fabric and notions information is, highlight the information I need, and then take that with me to the fabric store.

    I store any special notions for the project in the envelope until sewing time.

    I have the patterns my mother used to make my clothes in the '50's, the clothes I made as a young woman, and now the dresses I make for my granddaughters.

  132. Suzaan | | #132

    I have a few tips to share with you all.
    My grandmother taught my mother and she taught me that your sewing must be as neat on the inside than outside - this has the effect that when I walk at a market looking at the sewing people sell I always turn the seams to the inside. Some people did not like that. Another tip is that you keep your spool of cotton and the bobbin that go along in a small bag - you don't have to look for the matching bobbin and you don't waste any cotton - I always buy about 10 bobbins to keep in a little box.Another tip is that when you took the pattern out of the envelope put the envelope and the pattern in a plastic bag and pin it close so that the pattern don't fall out because I can never get the pattern in the envelope without ripping the envelope, and lastly if you want to create a new pattern using one piece of pattern A and another pattern piece of pattern B it is best to draw all the pattern pieces onto vitrace and put it in a new envelope or bsg and pin a photo of the finished item onto the envelope or bag - next time you want to make the item again all the necessary pattern pieces are together and all your original patterns are in their envelopes or bags.

  133. Beechbaby | | #133

    If I have a pattern that I think will be used more than once, I trace the tissue pattern onto some freezer paper. It keeps the pieces sturdy and minimizes tearing. I also store the original envelope, tissue pattern and freezer paper pattern in a sheet protector. (I keep my patterns in large binders with the sheet protectors organized by pattern type...I know...very anal on my part but I can always find what I want!)

  134. User avater
    thomy | | #134

    The best tip I ever learned was to prepare a muslin. This is a new concept given I haven't sewn many garments. I am in the process of learning how to make all the adjustments and have decided to keep at it until I get it right. I know this will be invaluable because my figure has changed dramatically in the last year due to age, and a thyroid problem. Being petite and full busted was a challenge to begin with so mastering a muslin/sloper is going to help tremendously.

  135. User avater
    thomy | | #135

    One more...the best sewing tip: all the tips I read here! :)

  136. User avater
    GreenTrunkDesigns | | #136

    Using a can of compressed air to clean all the lent out of your sewing machine—soooo helpful!

  137. Betina | | #137

    When laying out a pattern that is not terribly complicated, it's much faster to use a cutting mat and wheel, and weights to hold the pattern down, rather than using pins and scissors. I place one pin in the middle or at each end of the grain arrow, and then place weights around the perimeter of the pattern piece. Using a cutting wheel, it's quick to run around the edge and just nudge the weights in a bit to make the markings and snip the notches, then remove the weights and carry on to the next centrally pinned piece.

    You can buy the expensive pattern weights, or what I found is the leftover "slammers" from the POG craze work really well. I salvaged about 2 dozen of them. As those are no longer available, I've supplemented my supply by using drapery weights, taping two of them together to make a slightly heavier weight. Any flat weight will work though, so use your imagination. Large washers? Repurpose something from the children's toybox as I did with the slammers?


  138. rr528 | | #138

    I don't remember where I learned this, but...when using fusible interfacing, I use the interfacing to finish the edges of my facings. Sew the interfacing to the fabric (right sides together) along the edges that are to be finished in a 1/4" inch seam. Trim to 1/8", then turn the interfacing to the wrong side (carefully!) and fuse. Voilà! Finished facings - with all raw edges secure and concealed.

  139. silverlining | | #139

    I don't have a favorite sewing tip other than cutting thread at an angle to thread the needle easier. This is why I need this book.

  140. scarlettred | | #140

    Quick Homemade Halloween costume tip - to make a Superhero cape, purchase a round tablecloth, fold in quarters, make one cut from the edge to the middle, cut 8" diam. hole in center. Add bias tape around hole with 12" extra for ties. Hem sides of cut if needed.

  141. StephanieB | | #141

    A few tips I've learned (from my grandmother and from experience)- know your body measurements! Fit your pattern to YOUR body. Pretreat your fabric (not fun to make a new dress that shrinks the first time it's cleaned). Measure those grain lines from the selvage (it's not pretty when your garment hangs oddly). Pin all the pieces BEFORE you cut to make sure you have enough fabric! Pay attention to the notions portion of the pattern (it's not any fun to cut out a dress and begin to make it up only to find out you didn't know you needed...to finish it)! Use good quality thread, needles, etc.... Last but not least, keep on hand (within arms reach) a go-to book for those moments when you need a little more information on what you are doing.

  142. SWoerner | | #142

    Since I recently resumed my sewing passion since childhood, Any and all tips I get are very helpful. So much has changed since I took Home Ec, and I am learning (the hard way) that there are easier and less time comsuming ways to put your project together. To have this book, would allow me to not feel ANCIENT!! I love the satisfaction you get when you complete a dress, shirt, skirt, etc. all by yourself and even better, when you came up with the design.

  143. Retrojean | | #143

    My mother always used a metal thimble when hand sewing, but I could never get comfortable using that kind. I even tried the plastic ones, but having it fit over the end of my finger wasn't doing it for me. So I dug out a scrap of leather (a sample from our leather chair), wrapped it around my finger & glued it. I've been using it ever since, and can't hand sew without it. It's comfortable, flexible, and tough enough to get the most stubborn needles thru!

  144. LaurieDiane | | #144

    When sewing a pattern that I will line I neatly press the wool and the lining then I sandwich the lining inside the wool and make sure the folds are tight to each other and I pin cut and mark all at the same time. This saves me loads of time and the lining is so much easier to manage ...no slipping around!

  145. thegreatoz | | #145

    Press, press, and more pressing. My mom kept after me to press pattern pieces, material and seams when I first started sewing but I was in such a hurry to get it done that I always skipped that part and you can imagine how my garments turned out. After many years and many disaterous results, I now press, press and press again!
    I also learned a valuable tip from Threads E-magazine about sewing on buttons. What a great tip that was - I passed it along to my daughter, who has just taken an interest in sewing. I also use the button sewing tip on every shirt I sew for my husband with great results.

  146. skayshack | | #146

    As a 9 year old, my mother taught me many valuable lessons in learning to sew. I was always wanting to finish my projects quickly and many times not resulting in neat professional appearances in my garments. "RIPPING OUT" was a common term I learned at a young age. As I matured and began to show pride in my sewing I learned to slow down and do my best and neatest sewing. When my peers complimented me on my finished projects I realized my mother was very wise in her teachings. Today I still sew for myself, children and grandchildren. I strive to sew clothing that looks professional like those from well known fashion houses. What a rewarding lesson and hobby I enjoy! THANK YOU DEAR MOTHER!!

  147. DukeRenaud | | #147

    Here are two tricks that are easy, once you have cut out your patterns and removed the pattern pieces pin a sticky note on each piece and write the # of the pattern piece on it, that way when you follow the pattern your not hunting for the piece!
    from my daughter! and also when we get sewing how many times has pins been left in your sewing area,usually they end up on the floor. My son is a mechanic and he uses a magnetic dish for his screws, wow i bought one and use after each sewing session, i just pass the magnetic dish over my sewing table and floor and voila they are all picked up!

  148. User avater
    kvenkat | | #148

    I do a lot of beadwork which requires the threading of very small needles. One great tip I learned on another crafting forum was that the eye of a needle is often larger or smoother on one side than the other. So if I have trouble threading a needle, I simply rotate the needle and try from the other side. A little lubricant (saliva) helps too!

  149. fun2sew | | #149

    My father, who is a jack of all trades...carpenter, electrician, all-around fix-it man....taught me at a very young age that you "measure twice, cut once". I've kept that in the back of my mind every time I pick up any kind of cutting tool, especially when cutting fabric.

  150. kwtxn | | #150

    From my Mother, as much by example as being told, try new and different things, be creative, think outside the box, and never stop learning.
    I'm 66 now, and have had so many fun and interesting projects because of her examples. Of course I got into some real messes, but nothing ventured, nothing learned.

  151. User avater
    RevDi | | #151

    A shortcut I learned many years ago - I can't remember if it was from my first sewing teacher or my dear great-aunt - was about marking the diamonds on cutting lines. I cut the outer edge of the diamond off, and snip into the part of the diamond that extends into the seam allowance. Much faster than trying to cut around them while cutting out your pattern pieces, and just as easy to match up the little slits and double slits into your seam allowances - and they don't look so obvious on your finished product.

  152. matherton | | #152

    I learned to sew as a little girl and continued through 4-H, high school home econ. classes and now as a retired grandma I love to make things for my grandchildren and family. Several important tips come to mind. I like to super pin or baste any difficult seams. It saves tearing out imperfect work. Press, Press, Press, as many others have stated. It takes time but makes your finished product much more professional. Run your thread through a piece of beeswax to make it stronger and or for ease of threading. Take time out before you think you are tired and before you start making mistakes or taking shortcuts you will regret later.

    If you aren't having fun, stop!!!! Sewing should be fun and satisfying.

  153. fmamca | | #153

    I always try to gather everything I need before I start a project. I pre- read the directions to make sure I know what I will need and make sure I have everything together before starting. I don't know where I learned this but it has saved me a lot of frustration over the years

  154. bbkim | | #154

    When I am doing either hand-sewing or hand-quilting, I run my thread across a piece of beeswas (after I have threaded the needle)and then I iron it on medium heat. This drives the wax into the threads so that the thread becomes both smoother and slides through the fabric easily. It becomes a straight, waxed, and tangle-free thread which is much easier to sew with than unwaxed or even waxing the regular way.

  155. drohdenb | | #155

    My most used tip was from Louis Cutty (sp). When top stitching around an item and you get to the corner and turn with needle down and your presser foot is tilted at a crazy angle because it is half on and half off the fabric. When you turn with the needle down, take the closest sewn corner of equal bulk and put it behind and under the presser foot to bring the presser foot level. Now as you start sewing you have traction and will not get stuck with a thread gobber in your corner.


  156. sew2sew4 | | #156

    Words of wisdom from my dear mom: Don't skip the pressing. Press as you sew. This gives you a better impression of the fit of what your are making.

  157. Inlarkspur | | #157

    Best Tip:

    Measure twice, cut once!

    From my Nana, who knew how to make precious fabrics go a long way, having raised her family in the 20's and 30's. My Grampa also said this, as he was a carpenter, and would teach me about woodworking in the garage, after I'd finished sewing with Nana.


  158. JoanneSue | | #158

    For some reason, it seems that the thimbles that fit perfectly at the store are always a little to big and slip off my finger when I go to sew. I was always buying new thimbles trying to find one that was actually comfortable and worked well. I solved this problem by wrapping a piece of tape on the inside of my thimbles, sticky side toward the thimble. I found medical tape or electrical tape work best. This not only custom fits the thimble to you, but I find it also makes the thimble more comfortable and less slippery.

  159. SUZAG57 | | #159

    Most of my sewing has been self taught and trial and lots of errors! I have just gotten back into sewing after a "kids break" of 25 years and I'm really enjoying it.

    After breaking my back trying to cut things out, I have purchased a fold able 6ft. table and bed risers. No more back strain and it's just the right height.

    If you have your sewing machine in a carpeted area, purchase a piece of vinyl floor covering (like 6' x 8') to put under your machine and chair. Clean up of stray threads, pins and scraps are much easier to sweep up.

    I also bought an entry level machine last year and was really disappointed with it. Once you have a good machine, stick with a good machine. I purchased myself an embroidery machine and a serger for Christmas and I've been having lot's of fun. My daughter-in-law will be getting the entry level machine and I will try to teach her all the in's and out's of sewing. I guess when I kick, she will get the new machines...LOL

    I would love to have this book to help refresh my skills and also teach my daughter-in-law the right way!

  160. 1poodle | | #160

    I've found that it's important to "test" your machine by sewing on the same piece of fabric you will be using for your project. This will also let you know if you are using the correct needle. (A new one for each project).

    When sewing across a heavy seam, like jeans, fold a scrap of fabric so it is the same height as the seam. Put this folded scrap behind and under the rear of the presser foot. It will keep the foot level and no more skipped stitches.

  161. User avater
    Love_it_handmade | | #161

    Wise words from my dear departed mom still follow me today...."Pin and press, pin and press"! Make sure you press things out really well and don't skimp on the pinning.

  162. RuthieD | | #162

    My favorite tip is to use a home-made gauge to measure for hems. I usually use the cardboard left from seam binding or the like. I measure the distance that's needed for the hem, i.e., 2-1/2", and cut a notch in the edge of the cardboard at that mark. Then, instead of using a ruler or tape measure each time I need to set a pin, I only need to use that small piece of cardboard. Each piece of cardboard can be used over and over, given that it has four sides. Be sure to mark the measurement at each notch.

    I learned this tip in my seventh grade sewing class, fifty-nine years ago. Kudos to the late Miss McKay!

  163. Angellworks | | #163

    When inserting an invisible zipper: 1. Cut two 1" wide strips of fusible interfacing. Length of stips should be 1" longer than zipper. 2. Fuse strips to the inside of the garment along the edges of the opening left for the zipper. 3. Insert invisible zipper. This adds needed stability to the area. Tip from Donna P., sewing instructor.

  164. bekabug8 | | #164

    The best tip I learned was how to sew a perfect cornered seam at school. I have posted a tutorial on my blog how to do it:


    I hope I win the book!

  165. Aspydelia | | #165

    My favorite tip regards easing sleeves. I don't run a gathering stitch across the sleeve cap. Instead I ease the sleeve (by hand) directly into the armscye, sewing "over my finger." Since the sharper you bend the fabric the longer the top layer becomes, I find that I can control the ease better than trying to make a gathering stitch look neat by pinning... and then I can try the garment on just as it will look coming out of the machine. If I'm uncertain about the outcome, I use four separate threads: one for each quadrant of the sleeve. That way I can pull out a thread without disturbing the other parts of the seam. Hand basting doesn't take all that long and it sure is easier to remove. Another advantage to this method is that you can reverse the bend to slightly ease the bodice underarm, adding better shape and stability.

  166. sewing_teacher | | #166

    Always read ALL the directions before beginning! I think I was told this back in 1957 by my first sewing teacher. It sure keeps you from starting things you know you can't do or don't understand.

  167. gailete | | #167

    Practice, practice, paractice on fabric and layers that are the same as the garment or project you are making. I have heard this for many years from many sources and then finaly started doing it. It makes such a difference. That and pressing, pressing, pressing. Pressing as I go makes the grament look better but also gives me a break to move around which relieves muscle tension.

    The advice I try to give everyone is read your sewing machine manual and refer to it often. With the wonderful computerized sewing machines that are out these days, they can do marvelous things that can really speed up some techniques. We have to remember that they are accessible and how to use them. We also need to take advantage of all the different stitches both utility and decorative, and the great presser feet that come with the machines and our manuals really help. Then for more info, I reach for my Threads collection or one of my reference books to expand upon what I see in the manual.

  168. Teri2 | | #168

    I really like how one of Nancy Zieman's show told how I could remake over a pattern piece or pieces with the pattern tracing paper. I always thought that I would just have to buy a different size and low and behold!!!!All I have to do is pin it in one spot and pivot the pattern piece and enlarge the pattern to the size I need,

  169. lindajo | | #169

    A sewing tip i learned a long time ago from a sewing show on tv.Is in gathering someitmes threads break when you try to pull them.This little trick works everytime.Thread your bobbin with the thin elastic thread,then use your gathering stitch of your machine.you will have a perfect gather everytime.I would love this book

  170. sexymil282 | | #170

    best tip ever, sewstylish magazine from the publishers of threads magazine-baggig a lining. greatest tricks and tips.

  171. dodgeforever | | #171

    I have always washed my material and ironed it if necessary

  172. QuiltsShootsLeaves | | #172

    I often have just a few minutes at a time to sew. My best tip is to set up for the next task before I leave my machine. That way I can just do it, the next time I have time to sew; I don't have to waste time wondering what the next step was.

    For example, once my pattern pieces are cut out, I may wind a bobbin or two, thread my machine with the right color thread, and put the first pieces under the presser foot.
    Or I may straighten out my fabric on my cutting table, line up my rotary cutting ruler and leave it on top of the fabric. Seems silly but it's like I'm blazing a trail for myself, and I can quickly finish the next task when I have the next little bit of time.

  173. fasthorse | | #173

    I read some of the tips, think they are great. Taking your time is good, learned this the hard way. Making a muslin another good one, had an unfortunate client who had some one sew her a bridesmaid gown without a muslin, was able to salvage, was an ok fit but would have been so much better if the muslin had been done. But what I find the best tip is make sure you read the pattern instructions, so you can purchase what you need and not be stuck going back to the store later and not be able to get what you need, saves time and you are more likely to finish that project.

  174. sewloz | | #174

    When packing away pattern pieces I always fold them so that the number of the piece is on the outside and easily visibile. This saves heaps of time when you are looking for pattern pieces next time!

  175. missnicole12 | | #175

    Love what you make and put love into it!!!

  176. User avater
    emmyjay | | #176

    PattyHayesMurdock beat me with the beeswax tip -- I still use the same lump my great grandmother (who was a tailor back in the day) used. Humble as it is, it's one of my prized sewing possessions and it doesn't leave the sewing room. When I'm sewing somewhere else (and sometimes if I'm just too lazy to get up and get it) I run the thread through the front of my hair and then run it between my fingers a few times instead. (Natalie Chanin calls this "loving" your thread.)

  177. sewgramms | | #177

    Every year I get a small calendar I keep in my sewing desk. I sew for me, family, pets and friends. Clothes, quilts, pillows, mending. Every time I finish a project, I note it on the calendar. My sewing goes in fits and starts so when it seems as though I have accomplished very little, I can look back and see that I actually did quite a bit. Even if it was mending a pair of jeans. Which I'm pretty good at.

  178. sharonea | | #178

    My grandmother always told me to take time when I'm sewing...alway alway check and check and check once more before I cut. Even though I may be in a hurry, I always do and often I find a could have been mistake.

  179. KittyF | | #179

    I learned years ago to use pink hair tape to mend my patterns. it has a slight stretch and sticks well to the tissue so it lasts a long time, doesn't deteriorate and doesn't tear the pattern either if you decide to remove it nor if you try to pin through it. Miracle stuff.

  180. greenbp | | #180

    I just bought a new sewing machine last spring and am getting back to sewing after several years. I guess I am getting reaady for retirement. My home ec teacher in school always told us to press every seam. I think this helps to make a professional looking garment. I would love to have this book to brush up on my skills.

  181. erinquilter | | #181

    You will learn something from EVERYTHING you sew. If you work on building your skills, you will be able to sew EVERYTHING you want.

  182. mammaw2oo3 | | #182

    I best tip I was given is when you are using a facing and are applying the interfacing. Lay the interfacing piece, fusible side up on top of the facing piece and stitch together in a 3/8 seam along the edge. Clip the curves, flip to the wrong side, and fuse to the facing piece. This finishs the raw edges very quickly and looks really nice on the inside. Saves a lot of time also.

  183. budgetb | | #183

    I used to struggle putting zippers in coats , but figured out that if I marked the closed zipper and the coat at the same place, I could easily line them up and not have one side an inch longer than the other. Easier on the nerves. Also sewing in the same direction for each side helps.

  184. SewistStLouis | | #184

    I do not recall where I first saw this, but using large washers purchased at the hardware store for pattern weights is the best thing to use with my rotary cutter. Thanks.

  185. muse2me2 | | #185

    Before you start a project, make several bobbins of the thread(s) you will be using. It's so frustrating to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a seam, have to make a new bobbin, and rethread, and finally get back to the project. Making a few at the start saves time and frustration.

  186. vintageseams | | #186

    I learned from a fellow estate sale customer that you can get great deals on thread, buttons, fabric, etc. by purchasing them at estate and garage sales. I swear by this tip now and all of my projects are one-of-a-kind since the fabric is no longer in production.

  187. User avater
    tusche | | #187
  188. User avater
    tusche | | #188

    Keep a small sponge saturated with silicone spray near the thread feed so the thread is just passing over the surface. You can tape the sponge fragment to the sewing machine. This smooths the sewing so it can sew faster and tangle free.

  189. SewBecoming | | #189

    My favourite tip, especially when working with beginning sewers, is applying the pattern pieces to freezer paper. It helps to make the paper tear free as well as heavier so that it does not "float" around when trying to pin. My Daughters and I like to roll up thier patterns with a label on the outside, then if they want to make a pair of boxers/pants, they just grab their "file" roll and away they go. The hard part is finding the freezer paper - LOL - everyone has gone to plastic bags and wrap. Can't remember for sure where I learned this, but it was in the early 90's. I love to make things easier and use short cuts:)

  190. Ruth63 | | #190

    We often need sharp corners--for collars and cuffs, and many other places. Perhaps from Sewing with Nancy, I learned to fold the seam allowances along the stitching line before turning the corner to the outside--and voila! A perfect corner every time! No more distorting the fabric or poking holes in it with a pointed turner, which is the way I had been taught at home or in home ec.

  191. ahanna | | #191

    Take your time when you are at the machine sewing and pay attention to where your fingers are in the process of sewing, particularly when you are getting close to the needle. Slow the machine down the closer you get to the needle. Don't let distractions cause your attention to wander but, instead, stop the machine before your fingers get so close to the needle that you can't stop the machine in time before you sew your own fingers.

    Yes, I have seen people do this and I have done it myself. My high school Home Ec teacher would say, "Watch your fingers!" each time I would run the machine at full speed in order to sew a seam a little bit faster.

    Watch your fingers.

  192. StitchingSiren | | #192

    The best tip is to read the ENTIRE sewing pattern before beginning a project. Just because it says easy doesn't mean it will be for you! No what your getting into before you spend money on yards of fabric and misc. notions for one project.

  193. GrandmaMary | | #193

    One of the most useful little tricks I have learned is to use some crochet thread (#10) and a zig zag stitch for gathering. The crochet thread is stronger than the sewing thread you would use for a basting stitch when it is pulled up for the gathering. I also like to use the buttonhole foot when doing this. You can put your folded crochet thread around the back of the foot and run the stitch that zigs one way does a couple of straight stitches and then zags the other way. When you do this you will have your 2 threads to pull for your gathering.

  194. Weaverbec | | #194

    I learned very early in my sewing endeavors to pre-wash everything! Nothing worse than to spend so much time on a garment only to have it shrink with the first washing!

  195. bojocreates | | #195

    My favorite tip is using a orange stick used for nail manacures when I'm pressing open seams. I came about it by picking up one that I have and started using it,I don't burn my fingers anymore.

  196. Glitter_Button | | #196

    One of my sewing tips that always stuck with me, is take your time on any one sewing project you endure. The result will turn out better if you take your time then, if you rush and make a sloppy job because, it won't be while's worth. I learned this from my sewing teacher and grandma.

  197. deChez | | #197

    When people see items I have made, the question I am most asked is "how do you keep the stitches in such a straight line?" The trick is to keep your eye on the edge of your fabric, and whatever you're using to guide the allowance (in my case, it's a piece of masking tape on the throat plate). We instinctively look a the needle while we're sewing...it takes a little time to train yourself to look at the fabric edge and guide mark instead, but once you train yourself to do this, you'll be sewing perfectly straight seams, top-stitching, etc. every time.

  198. EmSewCrazy | | #198

    My Grandma taught me to sew the sleeve in before sewing up the sideseam. It makes things so much easier most of the time. The second most useful was press as you sew! Makes things look so much crisper and finished.

  199. tianaj | | #199

    I'm a beginner & self-taught. I learned the hard way to always make sure I have extra spools of black thread. I didn't realize how often I used black thread "here and there" and how quickly it runs out. Going hand-in-hand with that is to always double check your stash before heading to the fabric shop. I hate going on a spree just to get home & realize I needed to refill black thread or elastic.

  200. etherealpr | | #200

    Take the time to think out a project and break it into smaller tasks -- for someone who has only shorter chunks of time to devote, this is essential!

  201. pegger1 | | #201

    From my own experience, I make it a point to read the back of a pattern and make sure I have or know what I need for that pattern. So many times I didn't read thru and could have got the buttons or whatever before leaving the store!

  202. BBinGA | | #202

    Press as you sew for professional results. I'm sure I read this in Threads many years ago. Also love, love, love your latest article on slow sewing, that a great tip for everyone.

  203. dpete | | #203

    Slow down, take a deep breath, and don't sew tired!

  204. samoon | | #204

    I take the reply envelopes that come with my junk mail and bills and use them to stash small pattern pieces so they don't get mixed up with the larger pieces. I make a lot of doll clothes and the envelopes are also good for sorting out the different pieces and keeping them in order. Just write the contents down on the outside of the envelope and it's easy to keep track of everything. This also keeps a little bit of paper out of the landfill!

  205. User avater
    Sewmena | | #205

    One of the best ideas and time saving was when I was working with heaving material to make a skirt for my cutting table. I was gathering the top portion and the thread kept breaking. I was getting frustrated and wanted to give up. I had just been to the dentist and I was given floss with wax which was on the kitchen counter staring at me. I just decided to use the floss as the thread and zigzag the floss onto the top of the material. Because of the wax, it was easy to gather and it didn't break. I have been using this method ever since. Another idea I have and it has saved me many of times is. There are times when I start to sew a project and have to put it down for months. I could never remember what I had to do next and I could never find the small pieces, there were always missing. I always save the milk bags, I find them to be strong for a lot of projects. I now use any bag as long as they are see-through. I put all the material in a big bag but in the milk bag I put in all small pieces of the project along with a note that states what I have completed and what I should start doing. I now have no more missing pieces and I can start right away no matter how long I haven't worked on project. I hope this help others out there. sewmena

  206. giannalapin | | #206

    Learn how to re-time your sewing machine. Mine slips very easily (such as if I run over a pin) and once I was taught by a very nice person on the Yahoo group for my machine, it was pretty easy. Saves a 100+ mile drive and $100 repair bill every time!

  207. dcd4602 | | #207

    When you find a pattern you like use it over and over again. The more times you use it the better you will get at the finished product. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out a pattern's instructions.

  208. User avater
    tommiandjaysmommy | | #208

    As I read more and more sewing blogs that do the same I have started tracing my patterns, especially if it is one I want to reuse again and again. This way, I don't have to buy multiple patterns to make a favorite article of clothing for my kids as they grow. I also love using washers from the hardware store as pattern weights...they help when tracing.

  209. tomsmama2 | | #209

    May not seem like much but it's very important... Don't sew when you're really really angry! Not only will simple sewing problems suddenly be insurmountable mountains but it could also lead you to not really pay attention to what you're doing. I need only look at the scar on my left thumb where I sewed through it to be reminded!
    Learned while working on a dress to wear to Homecoming when in high school, more years back than should be legal! :-)

  210. Bethbabe | | #210

    Having years of sewing experience behind me, and sewing in about every field, clothing, upholstery, embroidery and for an Interior design company, I think the best tip I have is to use nippers instead of a ripper. To me, ripper says it all, it damages and weekens fibers and rips out stitches. If you have a very sharp, good quality set of nippers the job is done in half the time, with much better results. It does take some time getting used to them, but well worth the time.

  211. woolybulle | | #211
  212. woolybulle | | #212

    my sewing room is a jumble and trying to find space is always a challenge. i was using my ironing board to cut out some small pattern pieces. i grabbed the nearest 'weighty' thing i had on hand: small disc magnets. they worked great at holding down the patterns. this, i realized, was because my ironing board is metal...now if only i had a larger ironing board!

  213. jamaskip | | #213

    I have learned that every little thing you learn adds up to more enjoyment with your sewing. My favorites are to press your seams as you go. Such a little thing makes a garment look so much better. Also as I am now retired treading a needle is not as easy as it use to be. My repairman showed me; hold a small piece of anything white like a piece of paper or material behind the needle. You can easily see the eye this way. Such a simple thing to do.

  214. User avater
    chetani | | #214

    I recently made a dress-form for myself, using the paper-tape method. The form turned out well, but I needed some structure on which to set it so I could use it properly. I finally found what I needed at a garden shop - an obelisk designed for climbing plants and sturdy enoungh for my purpose. It is well-balanced and just the right height, and the decorative scroll-work of the obelisk looks nice in my sewing room.

  215. eq_ny | | #215

    Years ago when I was doing my first 4-H sewing project I had fabric scraps, snipped-off threads and pattern cuttings all over my work area. My 4-H leader taped a paper bag to the side of my sewing machine and told me to put all my scraps in it as I worked. This little, simple tip has saved me hours of cleanup and helped to keep me neat and organized.

  216. User avater
    marax | | #216

    One of the best tips I can offer is to subscribe to Threads -electronic news letter and the magazine. Threads has reactivated my love for sewing -especially 'slow sewing'

    A long narrow magnetic strip to the window sill above my sewing table is invaluble - from holding my pattern above my machine - to having my sewing intruments to the ready, ( as well as a display for my collection of antique scissors)

  217. User avater
    Martykay | | #217

    When I have a pattern with alot of pieces and sizes, I cut the pattern envelope down one side and across the bottom. Open up the pattern envelope and glue to a manila envelope. I can see both sides at once and have a large envelope to
    hold all the pattern pieces.

  218. BGriff | | #218

    A tip that I have not seen yet and taught to me by my 4-H leader is to pin at right angles to the cutting line and the sewing line when you can.

  219. User avater
    Deila | | #219

    I have several but my favorite tip I give to anyone I can is to use an iron and press set every seam you sew before moving on to the next step.

  220. janice201 | | #220

    Many pattern pieces are not completely marked with pattern number, some have cutting directions on the side, i always add those markings with a pen on the original pattern so they don't get lost, also i like to put scotch tape on markings such as darts or dots so when you reuse the patterns they don't tear. Also if you think you can't sew something straight baste it down first, then sew it will save a lot of time then having to rip out a lot of tiny stitches. I find I sew better if I am happy, try and do something you like everyday it gives us something to look forward to. Also setting goals helps us get more done. A little slice of time here and there adds up to complete a project.

  221. stpete73 | | #221

    I love all type of Embroidery, both Machine and hand. Hand embroidery of all types was a love instilled in me be my great grandmother, whom I simply worshiped. I remember as a child and then growing up what a real "lady" she always was, and no matter what, she always had time for whatever it is I wanted. She not only taught me to sew and embroider but many, many more valuable life lessons as we sat on that swing on the porch embroidering. I suppose I have always been partial to hand embroidery for that reason......oh, and you did it right!!!! OR you took it out!! (Front and back must be neat). She was over nintey when she showed me how to do tatting, but her's was far neater then than mine now,

  222. learnergirl | | #222

    My best tip is to keep on learning. Read,read,read and experiment,experiment,experiment! There's always something new to learn as Threads readers all know! I tried to make perfect collar points for years and finally found the solution in Nancy Zieman's sewing book! Fabulous tip! Stitch the long edge of the collar first, press and edgestitch and then stitch the sides. It works!

  223. bhgcxawpjf | | #223

    The best sewing tip I have received is"Enjoy the process". Whatever step you are at with your project ENJOY it. Measuring, cutting, assembling, pressing, finishing; every step is important to the outcome of your project.
    Quality work can't be rushed.

  224. MsTeddo | | #224

    My best sewing tip is not to be stuck using just the tools found in the fabric store. Find good rulers at the office supply, university bookstore, and auto and architectural supply stores. Make sure the ruler has inches and metric and that the numbers begin at the same end so that you can convert if necessary. A flexible curve is useful to measure and draw the head. A proportional scale can convert a vintage pattern to a modern size. A ship's curve works great for the front areas on men's wear. Look around at the wonderful array of tools and think about how you could use them.

  225. User avater
    IggyJingles | | #225

    My favorite tips are:
    Always buy two spools of your thread to save time when you refill your bobbin - you don't have to unthread your machine.
    Invisible zippers are much easier than regular zippers to install.
    Snip your pattern marks in the seam allowances.
    I agree with all the folk who mention ironing. My iron is definitely a big part of my sewing toolbox.

    I'd love to win.

    Robyn L. Coburn

  226. User avater
    mamamaria | | #226

    The sewing tip that has been most helpful and used always by me is: !!READ ALL OF THE PATTERN!! (every word, front to back)thoroughly and know what everything means and how the item is completely constructed before you even start to buy notions and fabric!! You never know what changes might need to be made to any aspect of your creation to make it truly right for you!! This inestimable advice was recommended to me by: Caroline Elias, my high school (vocational school) instructor whom I highly appreciated, admired and fondly remember.

  227. ChrisCouture | | #227

    Best tip ever: when gathering a large amount of a project (skirt, tablecloth, etc.) my sewing teacher in college told us to use jean/upholstery thread in the bobbin and loosen the upper thread tension. The stronger thread has a less tendency to break and usually will be in a contrasting color so you won't accidentally pull the wrong set of threads out when you've finished sewing your seam. By loosening the thread tension, it creates just enough of a loop for the gathering stitches to 'slide' over the heavy-duty thread. Of course, he told us this after my husband had given me a serger for a christmas present because he was sick of me complaining about gathering!

  228. hantoo | | #228

    This isnt an original idea judging from previous posts, but I agree: make a muslin.
    Nothing like the disappointment of making up a pattern and its just rubbish. I always thought a muslin would take too much time etc but if you just do the basics and join the pieces, you aren't wasting time on perfect finishes etc. Its so important because everyone has their own body shape and it needs to be addressed!
    Great tips just in this thread ! But I'd love the book anyway!

  229. lodenthal | | #229

    The greatest tip anyone gave was to iron a sean flat before you press it open. This helps et the stitches. It sounds so simple yet when in a hurry is often forgotten. It sets the stitches and make the seem press open better.

  230. grannyg60 | | #230

    the current issue has been very informative, I have tried the instructions that have assisted me in making changes to my dressform (my actual measurements) I have put to use suggestion of going slow and found that I enjoy and that I have made no mistakes. LOT LESS FRUSTRATION TO BOOT!!!!!!!!!!!

  231. fudgebohn | | #231

    Pin a piece of batting to your shoulder then you can just toss all the loose threads in that direction, they'll stick, and your work space will stay much cleaner!

  232. mickeyDx2 | | #232

    My sewing machine was "eating" the beginning of each seam and Jamming. My Quilting teacher suggested that I pre-start each seam with a small piece of doubled fabric. I now stitch from the middle of this small folded fabric and then add the seam I want to stitch. If I use one fabric scrap at the beginning, and also end with one ( like chain stitching ), I'm ready to sew the next seam. This works great-no more swallowed fabric or jammed machine.

  233. Minkymink | | #233

    The most useful tip I learned was to assemble everything needed to complete a project before starting it. Nothing more frustrating than finding you don't have snaps of the correct size or elastic of the proper width when the fabric store has closed for the day.

  234. User avater
    MaddyGranma | | #234

    My favorite sewing tip that I adapted from a tip I learned from my Grandmother is to keep a "file" when a garment is sewn. I now use gallon zip lock bags and fold the pattern up neatly, place the front of the pattern so it shows on the inside of the bag. Now here is the best part: I keep some of the fabric I used for the garment along with any findings such as special thread, buttons, closures, etc. and a 3x5 card listing any interesting things I discovered while making this garment; maybe about fabric used, how the fabric was treated prior to sewing, etc. That way if I need to make an adjustment to the garment after sewing it, I have everything I need in one zip lock bag, including extra fabric in case I need to redo a bias binding or add extra length or width.

  235. giftedgranny | | #235

    "Press as you sew" may sound like a given, but I have been surprised how many people who sew do not follow this simple tip/rule. The end result is dramtically different than not pressing as you sew.

  236. SueBee256 | | #236

    Take care of your tools. Keep your machine clean and in my case oiled. Keep your scissors sharp and a drop of oil on the screw. My main sewing machine was purchased new in 1969 and still runs like new. Too bad it doesn't come with an odometer.

  237. sherylvandusen | | #237

    When working with fabrics that are difficult to spot right from wrong side, I immediately attach small sticky labels to wrong side as I remove pattern pieces. This helps prevent silly errors like sewing a right to a wrong and the resultant seam ripping.

  238. cecine | | #238

    I learn this in the Threads magazine for making jeans hems less hard work since I do that a lot for my brother - hit the double seam with a hammer it will flatened the fiber and the needdle will past through more easily. I never receive a complaint from him cause he knows I'm just learning to sew at age of 55. Keep the tips coming in I read them all...

  239. avalonsewing | | #239

    Whenever I thread elastic through a casing, I add an extra half inch to the length of the elastic. I sew the elastic to the end of the one side of the casing and then when I pull the elastic through the casing with the bobbin or the pin, I pull the half inch of elastic out of the other end. That way I have the half inch of elastic to hold on to when I am sewing the other end of the elastic into the casing seam allowance. It just gives me that little bit of something to hold onto while I am sewing the elastic into place and it doesn't go flying back into the casing. Then I trim the half inch elastic off after sewing it into place. This has works especially great for small projects i.e. children and/or doll clothes!!!

  240. karynn | | #240

    I use elastic thread to help clothes fit better

  241. purpleplace | | #241

    A sewing tip I find most handy to remember is to always use the same ruler, tapemeasure or at least the same brand measuring device throughout a project. I learned this early in a quilting class when a friend ended up with different sized blocks because she by accident picked up a different brand angle ruler during the day's class. Plastic tape mearures can stretch a little too, so when doing alterations or designing changes to your sewing project it is important to keep measurements exact or at least the same throughout.
    Betty from Purple Place

  242. Clutter2Craft | | #242

    Who has not had the wrong size coffee filters brought home? I keep a stack of coffee filters at my sewing machine to test decorative stitches and their size. The filters are a great tear-away stabilizer for most projects. And, I use them to hold down high nap fabric from catching in the needle foot. I've used them to make small pattern pieces, pattern transfers, and as a stabilizer.

  243. JoyK | | #243

    The tip I use most frequently: change your needle often. It really helps the sewing go much more smoothly!

  244. User avater
    island_girl | | #244

    One thing I love is reading all the useful tips that everyone sends in. I used to love sewing my own clothes but hated hemming because my thread used to always twist, knot and break. Running the thread thru beeswax has solved that problem and now I don't mind hands sewing. Another tip is to keep an empty pill bottle with a cap near your sewing machine or notions box to safely put those barbed, broken or bent needles until you're ready to throw it out. Cap it securely, throw it in the trash and start with a new bottle.

  245. ann_does_sew | | #245

    The most helpful tip I have is to keep a sewing journal. When you finish a garment, record how much fabric it actually took, and any alterations you made. If you make the garment again, it will be so much easier to cut and fit!

  246. spicedar | | #246

    You say your deadline to enter for the book 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips was 11:59, Jan.16th, but in Threads Magazine #153 Pg.16 it says if you visit your website before Jan.25th there would be a chance of winning.

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